Golf course defends staying open amid COVID-19 crisis
Published Thursday, April 9, 2020 6:48PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- While many golf courses across Metro Vancouver voluntarily closed because of the COVID-19 crisis, others are raising eyebrows in the community as they continue to welcome golfers onto the greens.
That includes Redwoods Golf Course in Langley, where people could be seen hitting the links in the sunshine on Thursday afternoon. Manager Doug Hawley made no apologies for keeping the course open, noting that every precaution is being taken to keep people safe.
"We've completely ceased operations in the clubhouse, including concession service," Hawley said.
"We're not allowing golf carts to be rented. We're shutting down our driving range so the whole practice facility's closed as well."
Though provincial health officials have ordered many businesses to temporarily close down to prevent the spread of the virus, golf courses are currently free to continue operating provided they ensure people stay physically distant.
Hawley said Redwoods has already removed some golfers for breaking distancing rules as well, including a couple of people who were tossed out for "high-fiving each other."
The course is also performing daily health screenings on employees and having golfers pre-pay for their tee times, meaning they can head straight to the course without interacting with staff.
Redwoods has even made it so that balls don't sink as far into the holes, decreasing the amount of hand contact.
Some people still see golfing as an unnecessary risk, however, and want to see courses shut down across the board. Delta Mayor George Harvie is one of those people.
Since other golf courses in Metro Vancouver decided to close voluntarily, Harvie said the ones in Delta have seen a surge in visitors.
"It's just bringing too many people, too much congestion," he said. "It's not the time right now to have golf course operations."
Harvie said the city has asked local golf courses to close and some have complied, but he wants the province to give Delta officials the power to fine businesses that refuse.
Last month, B.C. Golf sent a letter to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry saying it would support the mass closure of golf courses, but Hawley said he disagrees they should be shut down across the board.
"There are probably some that should be closed. It's something individual operators have to look at," he said.
"If they can maintain the separation and get their staff on board and maintain a safe environment and make sure it's happening, they should be open."
One golfer told CTV News he feels safer on the greens than any grocery store, where people shuffle down the aisles in relatively close quarters.
"Here you can choose to be 10 metres apart, five metres apart. There's lots of space to move," said Rob Martin. "That's how we handle ourselves. We keep our distance as much as possible."